UFC 158 fight card: Jake Ellenberger vs Nate Marquardt fight prediction, preview and breakdown

Photo courtesy of Esther Lin for MMAFighting.com

Jake Ellenberger took a step back in the 170-pound division when his original UFC 158 opponent, Johny Hendricks, took a step up to fight Carlos Condit in the co-main event. However, Nate Marquardt returns to the Octagon and is certainly no pushover. Will "Juggernaut" be too distracted with the opponent switch or is "The Great" no longer his formidable self as a welterweight? Jason Probst for MMAmania.com breaks it all down.

It’s hard to remember two fights where a fighter looked so different than Nate Marquardt's stoppage of Tyron Woodley, and his one-sided decision whitewashing at the hands of Tarec Saffiedine under the Strikeforce banner. Whether it was a one-time factor such as an injury, or something more long-lasting remains to be seen.

That being said, his versatility will be key in his return Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bout tonight (March 16, 2013) against Jake Ellenberger at UFC 158, which takes place from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Ellenberger has a small, but definitive edge in wrestling/takedown horsepower, which along with his heavy-handed, winging shots is the driving element of his attack. He has put together a hard-nosed win streak that clearly marked him as a rising talent in the crowded 170-pound division, notching victories that showcased his intense wrestling chops, along with good power and an aggressive style.

After getting stunningly knocked out by Martin Kampmann in a bout where he seemed on the verge of a brutal stoppage early, Ellenberger took a careful decision win over veteran Jay Hieron to get back in the win column. He’ll have to show more fireworks and his trademark slam-bang approach to generate the appropriate noise here, especially on a card with the best of the rest of the division showcased and statements aplenty to be made.

Check out a complete breakdown of the UFC 158 welterweight main card bout between Jake Ellenberger vs. Nate Marquardt below:

The Breakdown

Marquardt's got a penchant for sitting on his back and waiting for submissions to develop and when they don’t, it’s a pretty clear-cut prescription for losing rounds against a style's like the "Juggernaut." Ellenberger probably has better single-shot power, but Marquardt's got a much more classical Muay-Thai-based attack, mixing in kicks and creative combinations.

The key will be finding the room and openings to operate without getting sucked into a grab/clinch/grind type of bout, where Ellenberger can run him out of gas. Woodley’s relative inexperience worked against him because he simply wasn’t experienced enough to pace himself for a rough distance bout against top level competition.

Ellenberger is more well-versed with long fights, figuring to make the small adjustments to pace himself appropriately. It’s also a huge change in the relative stakes of this bout for Ellenberger – originally slated to face Hendricks, which was a huge opportunity, he now has a limited upside in beating Marquardt, while "The Great" can thrust himself back into the thick of the division with a win.

The Pick

Marquardt might be a little underrated coming off the dreadful Saffiedine loss, and if he can capture the brilliance he showed against the talented, but green, Woodley, this could be the kind of fight that steals the show on a stacked card.

Ellenberger’s key advantage will be the threat of a takedown and the unlikeness of Marquardt shooting first, so he may be overly confident wading in with his big shots. In the clinch, Marquardt is excellent at creating openings and using the cage to maneuver around, and his experience against bigger opponents should be able to blunt Ellberger’s opening-round assault.

However, the overwhelming pace of the bout figures to favor Ellenberger, who is equally tough and well-conditioned. He’ll force confrontations on the feet and heavy exchanges, then transition into strength-draining tie-ups and takedowns to sap Marquardt.

On the mat, Ellenberger should be able to generate enough contact on the ground to further cement the impression in the judges’ minds that he’s dictating the action. Bloodied and battered, Marquardt will make a brave stand down the stretch, getting hammered on the feet and on the mat.

Ellenberger via unanimous decision

Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the UFC 158 pay-per-view (PPV) main card action, which is slated to start promptly at 10 p.m. ET. Up-to-the-minute updates and fight-by-fight coverage will begin to flow earlier than that, however, around 6:30 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FX.

Jason Probst can be reached at twitter.com/jasonprobst

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